Sunday, October 28, 2007


Furniture Building

Crab fishing in Alaska, robbing a bank, and building furniture; these are all things that guys dream of one day doing. I haven't joined the cast of the Deadliest Catch and my bank account shows no sign of any large deposits, but I have built some furniture.

One of the things about owning any unique home is that you suddenly find that off-the-shelf furniture doesn't seem to cut it. This revelation isn't really that sh
ocking. Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, Rudolph Schindler, and Cliff May all designed not only built-ins for their homes, but also freestanding furniture as well.

I've had a lot of ideas for custom furniture in my place. From special shelving units to tv peninsulas to an idea I have for a bed incorporating a built-in dresser underneath. Unfortunately, these have all stayed ideas. But when my brother (who lives with me) told me he was going to buy a platform bed frame from Ikea ( The Malm ). I took one look and realized I could make something far cooler for less than the $179 required for the Ikea item.

Cantilevered spans have always been interesting to me from a technological point of view. None of the bedrooms in my house are particularly large and neither are the closets. So I thought the bed should be a place for storage and be "interesting" to look at. I'm a fan of
simplicity so I designed a platform bed that appears to "float" in mid-air. Of course, there's also vast room underneath for the many boxes and bins that seem to be a prerequisite of life in the 21st century. Below is an "engineering" drawing where I calculate the cantilevering system to keep the support posts invisible:

Drawings are boring, though. So here's a "test fit" where I see how it fits in the space. I plan on painting the bed the same super-dark-brown-almost-black as the beams. Though, part of me is thinking it might look good stained.

It's kind of eery. It looks a lot like a photochop or some kind of optical illusion. I actually have 1x2 edging to cover the exposed plywood edges. One problem is that it looks too "thin" to be supporting the weight of the bed. I think the 1x2 edging will help a lot. For those of you who simply must know the secret to the magician's tricks, here's a photo of the support system underneath:

If anyone wants construction details, I'm more than happy to provide them. I'll be painting everything underneath, but I just wanted to see how it would all fit together and make sure it wasn't wobbly. I'm sure it's way overbuilt, but on something like a bed I think it's better to me safe than sorry.

You might want to go a little larger than the 1x2, I think its still going to look really thin. Floating planes need to have some weight.

I'm getting ready to kick into furniture production mode myself. Check my blog a few times in the coming weeks to check it out.
Good words.
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